Children’s Book Week Review – Your Birthday Was the Best!

by Maggie Hutchings
illustrated by Felicita Sala

Your Birthday Was the Best! is one of this year’s Children’s Book Council of Australia notable and shortlisted titles, in the Picture Book of the Year category. 

 

Link to Catalogue record for Your Birthday Was the Best!

 

“Your Birthday was the BEST!
Everyone said so.”

A plucky young cockroach gate-crashes a birthday party with hilarious results.

It’s Party Time!

This picture book is an hilarious account of a children’s birthday party – but from a surprising perspective. The story is not told, as you would expect, from the point of view of the children (or even any adults). It is actually told from the viewpoint of a cheeky little household cockroach!

Taking such a familiar, well worn, childhood event and cleverly flipping it on it’s head. What can I say, this is an absolute masterstroke in storytelling. And unbelievably funny!

Your Birthday Was the Best! is one of those quirky, humorously told stories where things just don’t quite add up when you look closely. The cockroach’s depiction of events, in their own words, often just doesn’t quite match with what we are seeing on the page. The wonderfully detailed and dynamic illustration work really helps to emphasise this, so take your time to soak up all the little visual cues.

I ate so much

I fell asleep on your cake.

You were so excited to see me …

What adds another layer to the fun and hilarity of this story is the little cockroach’s overly positive interpretation of events as they unfold – and their unflappably optimistic, gleeful personality.

The cockroach enthused, “your Birthday was the BEST! Everyone said so.” As they look directly at a child, in the middle of the room full of party fun, bawling their eyes out! And when the party goers finally do become aware of their uninvited guest, there are screams, tears, and clear looks of shock and horror – which our little cockroach seems to willfully misinterpret as happy surprise and delight at the sight of them! It is very funny, tongue-in-cheek writing.

Even an apocalyptic encounter with IT (the household vacuum cleaner) leads to an absolute Wonderland of goodies. This cockroach is indomitable!

I won’t go on because we are going to get into serious spoiler territory. So I’ll wrap this party up with the strongest possible recommendation to give this picture book a go. If you like a good story full of fun and merriment, enjoy a gleefully off-center sense of humour, then this is the book for you! The kids will love it.